Monday, December 19, 2011

Provide Superior Service, Get More Customers

With a very few exceptions, businesses today cannot afford to ignore the customers who want to reach them online. More and more, “service” today means “Internet presence,” as increasing numbers of people go online to get information – whether it’s hours of operation, product and price information, or troubleshooting common problems. If you don’t have that information available and easy to access, you might lose a potential customer.

So your online presence is the first glimpse of your service that many people will see. How do you maximize this first impression? Let’s take a look at how one small florist has embraced the multimedia opportunities presented by the Internet in order to show their customers the level of service they provide.
Practical Application
Avante Gardens, in Anaheim, CA, has a fairly standard retail blog. You can browse floral arrangements by category, flower or occasion, learn about the types of roses, and of course place orders for local or out of town delivery. There are testimonials from satisfied customers and a delivery map – all standard stuff. But Avante Gardens takes it several steps further by featuring a custom design service, in which the customer chooses all the elements of an arrangement, and then receives a picture via email of their design. The owner of the company, Catherine Hillen-Rulloda, also blogs about flowers, florists, and everything floral. Her posts are chatty and informative, and really make the customer feel as though this business cares about providing the best service and product available. There is also a gallery of custom designs, and a video tour of the brick-and-mortar establishment—both of these show the customer exactly what kind of style and quality they can expect. Lastly, Avante Gardens has a wedding flowers video on YouTube. That kind of service—presented free of charge to anyone who wants to use it—can help drive customers, and might even make or break a sale.
If you’re like me—and you want to know as much as possible about a business before giving them your money—online research can be invaluable. And seeing that a company has taken the time to make their online presence as compelling, warm, and thorough as Avante Gardens has, makes me want to patronize them. On the contrary, if I stumble across a website that is poorly designed, hard to read, or riddled with spelling and grammar errors, I click away. Your website and online community reflect your quality and professionalism, and tips off a potential customer to what kind of service they can expect from you. Why wouldn’t you put your best foot forward, and provide superior service across the board? It just might net you more customers.